I introduced Howler here on the blog when we adopted him as a stray, and it only seems fitting to say goodbye to him here too.
Howler passed away last night.
After a pretty nasty bite a few months ago, we learnt that Howler was both FeLV+ and FIV+, and this combination is always terminal. How long he had we didn't know, but given the environment on the Yard we decided it wasn't the best place for a cat with his needs, and aimed to re-home him once he'd recovered from the infection.
Except he didn't recover from the infection.
He's been on constant antibitiotics for the last 10 weeks or so. Each jab lasted 15 days and towards the end of the dose, he'd start to get scraggy looking again and abscesses would form for no reason, and the next antibiotic jab would clear things up. The vet suggested that the infection from the original bite had spread, and given his lack of immune system, his body couldn't fight it itself. The antibiotics were keeping him alive.
Not that long ago, just before xmas maybe, we really thought we were going to lose him. He was losing weight rapidly, was in terrible condition and so lethargic, yet he picked up with the next dose of antibiotics and we were hopeful that he'd recover enough to get a home he deserved, with no other cats around.
But it seems it was all too much, and he died very quickly after what appeared to be a seizure and one last howl. We're all a bit lost and tearful today; even the Princess seems affected.
He was the friendliest, kindest, most docile thing, and the stupidest too. Where the Princess would chase dogs away, he would try and make friends with them. He just wanted company and to be loved, and we made sure to give him that. He had a spot next to the woodstove and plenty of food nearby, and there was always space on a lap when he wanted it.
I was going to say that I don't cope with these things well, but that's the wrong thing to say. It's what I've learnt to say. But emotions aren't wrong.
There's something about my relationship with cats that tears me up inside, that cuts me so much deeper when I lose a feline friend than any other pain I've endured. My deepest darkest demon that does me the most harm is the one that comes to tell me I could have done more for them, that I didn't do enough. It torments me constantly but especially likes to be present at times like this, when I want to say goodbye with fond memories. Even after years of therapy, years of visits with psychologists and psychiatrists, I still cant actually put into words the fear and guilt that haunts me.
I've been criticised for my grief over the loss of a cat many times before; that it isn't normal, that I should move on; that it's only a cat after all. I learnt that my emotions were abnormal, and it took many years to understand that those were insensitive, almost cruel words muttered by others for reasons I'll never know, and they only served to bury the pain deeper. There's nothing wrong whatsoever about being sensitive. I'm mindful of this with Aran, and will allow him all the time he needs to come to terms with this loss, and will share in his tears and memories. Aran shares my ultra sensitivity, as does Tom, and together we're letting Aran know that grief is normal and is different for everyone, and that it doesn't need guilt as a companion.
Howler was a content cat. We did everything we could to make him comfortable and keep him well, and he knew he was in a good place. Every cat that ever comes into our care gets the same treatment, and they always will. Howler was special because he shared that love around. His legacy is that he taught a cat-chasing dog that cats rule, and that they can be a dog's friend.
I'm very raw today, and we need to bury our friend. I'll be switching off some corners of the internet for a short while.
Goodbye gentle soul. I'm grateful for the chance to get to know you, and to have given you that little bit longer. Much love x